Where do I even begin? By far, the best Kona trip of my career to date. A lot of great things went down. Mostly, I was in awe of all the amazing people I got to hang out with over the week. No one is pissed in Kona (at least, no one I saw), and everyone starts to become family throughout the week, no matter their reason for being out there - participant, media, volunteer, sherpa, spectator, local, randoms, etc. It's truly a remarkable environment.
A glimpse of some of my "family" for the week the night of the race. Ben Greenfield and Pedro Gomes at Huggos. Who would have thunk?
Typical post-morning workout brekkie at
condo (Maggs' but you get the point. A lot
of the above staples consumed last week.
I won't lie, I was a little nervous going into the trip - I'd be staying in a condo down Ali'i with people whom I didn't know at all except for Maggs (not that it was sketchy staying with unkonwns, just that it was random), and I was doing work for Endurance Planet all on my own for the first time - a bit intimidating but exciting too. I knew I'd be busier with work than I have in past Kona trips, and I was looking forward to the challenge. I'll attempt to describe the non-stop nature of Kona week below. Knowing it would be crazy, I even said to myself that I would avoid the partying so I'd be fresh every day. The first couple days I was still on California time so I was easily up by 4-5am and right away would get in a solid swim and/or run starting around 6am, then it was pretty much work and network all day, and in bed around 8pm.
Behind the scenes. Chillin in the media room.
That routine lasted until, well, Thursday night? By that time I decided to join Tatiana and Beth for a night out - thus beginning the "burning the candle on both ends" part of the trip. But I held it together like a champ, as did everyone else out there who was operating on virtually no sleep for the week.
Anyways, the more I think about my trip the more I realize that every day something unique happened, often unplanned. For example, Tuesday I got into town in the afternoon and later on for dinner I ended up in a Thai restaurant with my new roomie, pro triathlete Pedro Gomes. I had heard of this Portuguese pro guy but knew nothing about him, and then there we were eating a papaya salad talking about his upcoming Kona debut. Additional randomness: I had no transportation for the week, besides bumming rides. Kind of a problem when you're about 2 miles from town and need to move quickly. But thanks to Pedro I was able to borrow a beater MTB to get around. The catch? NO brakes! Eh, no big deal. It wasn't that hilly where I was riding, and a foot brake worked fine ;) Take what you can get...
Wednesday, after a full morning of swimming, taking video the IM Talk Blue Seventy Aquathon, interviewing an old grad school friend and her team who were conducting a study, etc, I attended a private press conference with Macca and Challenge for some schmoozing and amazing hors devours, followed by my first Slowtwitch party experience - where they gave away some legit prizes, like an SRM!
Macca-Challenge partnership announcement.
Hor deouvers at Macca press conference.
Sweet potato w something amazing on top.
UPR with Molly from Zoot!
Thursday started with The Underpants Run where I ran into Ben Hoffman and ended up podcasting with him behind a building, haha. Later on Brad Culp and I snuck into an empty restaurant to do a podcast, followed by another podcast with Luke McKenzie in a King Kam hallway, and a father-daughter AG duo. Some of those those weren't really planned, so I considered myself lucky they happened. PS - those links are to the shows. The highlight of Thurs randomness, however, was a late-afternoon text from Kurt Hoy with Triathlete/Competitor asking if I wanted to do an impromptu photo shoot out in the Energy Lab. Um, yes! Thursday night wrapped up a little late as I rode the MTB back down Ali'i in the dark...
Running in the Energy Lab at sunset. ITU star Madi Serpico
was my partner in crime here.
Kurt Hoy in action in the Energy Lab (me running).
In my happy place, dreaming about "one day"....
My bike for the afternoon. Fell. In. Love.
Friday, pre-race day, and I had a swim on the course that had me saying, "I seriously cannot believe I'm here swimming this course." I've swam there a lot by now, but the magic of it never gets old. Then I got a special treat - a test ride on a new Shiv, and I fell in love. Not to mention, they were booked with their demo bikes, so Mark Cote let me use his personal bike. Now that's good customer service! Later on, I had my first experience doing a LIVE video podcast with Ben over a beer and the best poke on the island. Friday night was one heck of a party - the "Thank God I'm Not Racing" Party.
Podcastin and poke with Ben! (Da Poke Shack!)
Me, Tati, Roch, Beth, Rachel. Fun group to party with :)
Epic swag from Thank God I'm Not Racing Party.
Saturday? No surprise: It was nonstop from 4am to midnight. I spent the morning with Beth and Tati, which was really nice because that may not ever happen again (why? they'll be racing!). Then I was working in the media room, sitting next to Normann Stadler, and decided to ask him if he wanted to chat for a podcast.You gotta to take an opportunity when you see it! The same thing later happened when I ran into Dave Scott in the King Kam; I politely asked for a few minutes of his time, and a great podcast with a legend was the result. That said, the highlight of race day for me was standing in the media bleachers for, oh uh, probably 3 hours to watch the men's and women's pro finish! It wasn't comfortable but there's no where else in the world I wanted to be in those special moments. Saturday night was very cool too. By then I had my "Kona family" pretty well established, and our small group shared some good laughs and pina coladas over at Huggos. Heard about Pedro's first Kona (going 8:56 for 26th), roomie John Post's day of volunteering, stories from Maggs and the rest of us.... good times. Probably the most special night of my trip.
Swim start. Didn't go out of my way to get a front-row spot.
"Slept in" a bit instead. This was nice.
After interviewing Pete Jacobs,
I had a feeling this was going to be a special day for him.
Waiting at the finish line in the media bleachers.
One of my favorite finish line moments. Top two Americans,
Andy Potts 7th, Tim O'Donnell 8th.
You guys see IM online, this is the view from "the other end."
Leanda Cave with Greg Welch and Matt Lieto post-race at Kina Kam.
Tradition: Thai while overlooking the finish at night.
A very special "healthy" pina colada a la
Ben Greenfield. So tasty and amazing.
Sunday was about recovery even for us non-racers! A leisurely swim then a random stop over at the Powerbar Breakfast. A little run & rest, then our annual cliff jumping extravaganza with a solid crew - the GU crew, Rachel Stanley, Ben G, Joe Gambles, Laura O'Meara, etc... kinda a random group but it was even more fun that way! On tap next was an attempt to rest, more pina coladas, then the K-Swiss After Party at Huggo's. The after party is one of those "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" kind of nights, especially the part where everyone then goes to the after after party hosted by Clif. Found out that night that Macca is doing the same two sprint triathlons I'm doing this weekend. Not really sure why he's doing them, but it should be cool to see him out there.
Cliff jumping. The view before you go!
How you have to climb back up! Wear shoes!
And when it was all over, this is what was needed.
Especially in the case of Cait Snow and Pedro Gomes (both pictured).
Monday is always a little sad because you know it's over. I still had good times, though, laughing with Tatiana as we "flopped" in a little bay off Ali'i doing some pseudo snorkeling and talking about the week. Later on I got a visit by Tim and Cait Snow at my condo to do a podcast with Cait.... Then Cait and Pedro slept. And slept some more. Tim and I chatted. Then next thing I know I'm on a red eye to LAX, and Jim Lubinski who I'd been seeing around all week, just happened to be on that flight too.
There are so many more stories from the week, and I hope to share more in future blogs to come. I'll probably do a mostly picture blog next because I have lots more to share! But for now, that is my trip in a nutshell. It was a huge success to say the least - did good business, saw a good race, and was surrounded by good friends, new and old....
Already excited for Kona 2013!
I'll leave you with TYler from GU doing a backflip:
Great recap! Nice to see it from the perspective of someone so close to the event!!ReplyDelete
Good work on the pictures too!!
Wow! Just amazing!ReplyDelete